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One of the real pleasures of spinning is knitting with your own handspun yarn. I haven’t yet gotten to the point where I can consistently spin to my own project requirements, but my handspun is more and more usable. My latest handspun project gives me a little thrill every time I see it because it is just.so.cute:
Pattern: Djevellue/sweet baby cap (it’s free! and so simple!) I knit the two-year-old size. I started knitting on 3 January and finished 7 January.
Yarn: My own handspun, BFL handpainted by Jeni from Fyberspates. I spun it using the 5.5:1 ratio on my Ashford Traditional and two-plied it at the same ratio. It’s about 14 wraps per inch. I got 260 metres from 106 grams.
Needles: 2.5 and 3 mm needles, Knitpicks and Addis respectively (I like them both equally, but will not contemplate knitting with anything else. It’s a shame really, because I’ve inherited a large collection of assorted aluminium needles that I just can’t use).
Unfortunately, I can’t say the same thing about this week’s knit. I decided to try knitting the Three-Cornered Hat, one of the May projects from Elizabeth Zimmermann’s Knitters Almanac. I didn’t have any bulky yarn like the pattern calls for, so I decided to recalculate the stitch count for a worsted-weight yarn (the leftovers from my February Lady Sweater). Either my gauge math or my measurements (or both!) must have been wrong, because about halfway through the top decreases I could no longer ignore that nagging little voice at the back of my mind asking if this hat didn’t seem just a tad… big?
What annoys me the most is that with the worsted-weight yarn and the ridiculously inflated stitch count, there is actually quite a bit of knitting in that knitting disaster. I’ve ripped in disgust and am contemplating casting on for a lace beret.
I listened to the latest Yarnspinners tales podcast, and she encourages spinners to issue themselves an Olympic spinners’ challenge (most knit blog readers probably know about the Yarn Harlot’s immortal knitting olympics, which, as far as I know, will not take place this year but only at the next winter Olympics in 2010). The Olympic games will take place from 8-24 August. I’ve decided that my challenge will be to spin up one of the packages from the Fyberspates fibre club. They are about 4 oz each, and my choices so far (by the start of the Games I’ll have received one more) are:
This doesn’t sound like much, but the explanation is that the days of the Olympic Games, 8-24 August, will be the busiest period of my life for several years. I will move into a new home and start a new job. If I manage to spin anything at all, let alone 4 oz, it will be a pretty good indication of how important this new hobby is to me. If I do manage to meet my challenge, I will consider (gulp!) getting a wheel. Wish me luck. If you do decide to make yourself an Olympic spinning challenge, I’d love to hear from you!
Speaking of spinning, I have a couple of new WIPs:
I started this a little while ago, but haven’t posted a picture before. This is Fyberspates silk hankies in plum and gold, on my Bosworth mini (17 g) in zebrawood. Silk hankies are fully drafted before you spin, and require a great deal of pulling and tugging, much more than I’m used to from wool. The colours in this fibre are absolutely glorious.
This is some carded wool bought at a hobby store when I first started experimenting with spinning. It was natural-coloured, so I dyed with some bags of Kool-Aid grape. I divided the fibre, all 250 grams, into several pieces of different sizes, wet them and put them into different microwave bags. I mixed up different amounts of the Kool-Aid, poured into the different bags, closed them and steamed the packages for 40 minutes. I’m very excited to see what the finished yarn looks like. I’m spinning it on my Bosworth midi in maple using what I think is long draw. Since this is a carded fibre, and the dyeing process compacted the fibre a little, I thought that woollen spinning would suit it nicely.
When I realised that I wanted to start spinning somewhat seriously, I started looking at fibre clubs. A fibre club is a great way to challenge yourself both in terms of fibre type and colour choices, and they usually work out cheaper than ordering similar quantities separately. There are a few very popular ones, but mostly in the US. In Europe, I’ve found two. Fyberspates was the first one I found, and I signed up for their 3 month spinning fibre club (the normal one, they also have a 5 month luxury fibre club – that’ll have to wait until my spinning improves!). Today I received my first shipment, the April fibre. It’s 100 g 129 g (I just weighed it – such a nice bonus!) of superwash merino, and I love it!
I don’t think I would have chosen these colours myself, and that’s part of the reason why I like the fibre club. Jen of Fyberspates clearly has better colour sense than me (even most moles have better colour sense than me!) and I can’t wait to see what this colourway will look like spun – and even knit – up.
But I got the greatest thrill when I opened up the little bag of goodies that Jen included to apologise for some shipping troubles:
Silk hankies in the plum and gold colourway. I LOVE these colours together, and have been stalking this very offering on the Fyberspates website. I was a little sad when they suddenly disappeared, actually. I can’t wait to spin this up.
PS! In case you’re wondering, the other fibre club I found, only recently, is The Yarn Yard. I’ve heard good things about them, and they have superwash BFL as well as merino/tencel that I want to try. I may try their club eventually, once I’ve spun up the Fyberspates stuff. That will be a while, I’m sure.